Titanium Uses in Dentistry
Titanium is a metal alloy that has gained popularity in recent years in both the medical and dental fields. It has unique properties that make it preferable to other medical metals and alloys. In dentistry, steel and gold have been the traditional “go-tos” for procedures such as crowns, implants and braces. Both have been proven to be strong and durable. Over the years’ however, more dentists have replaced these metals with titanium. Titanium is also proven to be strong and durable. It is also cost-effective and light-weight. Its acceptance by the body makes it an ideal metal for surgical dental procedures. Titanium has properties that make it ideal for dental procedures and causes less discomfort for patients.
In recent years, various metals, alloys and synthetic materials have been incorporated into dental procedures and appliances. Titanium has become a favorite metal used by dentists for a number of reasons. For example, titanium is now the most popular and common metal used in dental implants. Why is titanium used?
Below are the greatest benefits of using titanium:
- It is light weight
- It is inert (meaning it won’t react with other metals or chemicals)
- It easily combines with bone (osseointegrate)
- It has no animate tissues, making it accepted by the body
- It is compatible with your body’s other tissues (biocompatible)
- Grade 5 titanium is shown to be stronger and fracture resistant
- Softer than other metals, making it easier to mold and fit the patients’ mouths better
- Price is reasonable and stays stable
- X-Ray Image Radiolucent (meaning it allows for easy passage and absorption of X-rays. Titanium shows up clearly on X-rays as a dark color. As it absorbs the X-rays, less radiological rays are sent into the body.)
- Low thermal conductivity (meaning it won’t exacerbate the extreme hot or cold temperatures inside a patient’s mouth)
- Corrodes less in the wetness and pH found in the mouth, which ranges from a pH of 5.6-7.9
Where Titanium is Used in Dentistry
As these properties of titanium show that the metal is safer and gives more comfort to the patient, it is no wonder that it has become popular in dentistry. With its unique chemical properties, titanium has many dental applications.
Below are the most common ways dentists use titanium:
- Implants-With titanium’s osseointeration property, dentists can better insert artificial teeth into the patient’s mouth. It is easier to insert implants because it easily fuses with the patient’s jawbone. As a result, there is less healing time and pain as well as a lower risk of infection where the implant is inserted. On a biological level, the patient’s bone cells easily attach themselves to the titanium implant, which causes a sturdy “bridge” to form, furthering to secure the implant in place. Titanium is also compatible with body tissue cells, so not only do the body cells keep the implants secure, the cells also won’t have a negative reaction to it, making titanium implants safe.
- Braces-Traditionally, braces have been made of steel, which was seen as durable and strong. It is also a heavy metal. With titanium weighing significantly less than steel, it is becoming popular for braces. Its lightness puts less pressure on teeth. There is a grade of titanium that is strong and durable, more so than steel. Not only are titanium braces strong and lighter-weight, its biocompatibility property won’t cause allergic reactions not cause uncomfortable side-effects.
Braces and other wires in the mouth can break from time to time, which can cause irritation, pain and possible infections if not treated. While titanium wires are not guaranteed to not break, the metal is more malleable (flexible) and softer than steel. Grade 5 titanium is also shown to be as strong and durable as steel. The acceptance of the body’s cells to titanium will help keep the braces and wires more securely fastened to the teeth.
- Crowns-Crowns are a popular dental procedure that has recently seen how titanium can benefit the patient. People with decayed, fractured or broken teeth most often have to get crowns, which are commonly made of gold. Gold is strong, but it can come with a significant price tag and some patients are allergic to it. The price of gold crowns fluctuates bases on supply and demand of the metal. Titanium, on the other hand, is also strong, but has a steady price which is affordable. On top of that, titanium doesn’t lead to allergic reactions because it is accepted by the patient’s body. Titanium’s lightness and softness allows for a comfortable, secure fit.
- Bridges- Bridges sometimes cause teeth to break because of the reaction between the various alloys that are used. Bridges are often securely fastened even to the point where the pressure on the teeth can cause them to fracture or break. With titanium bridges, there is a less of a chance of tooth fracture because its compatibility to bond with both the body’s cells and other metals and alloys without causing negative reactions.
- Partial dentures– Titanium is great for partial dentures because they are light-weight, and less dense than other metals. Its biocompatibility also prevents the risk of metal allergic reactions.
Titanium is an excellent option for dental surgery because of its ability to be accepted by the body and low risk of unpleasant allergic reactions. This makes it for safer surgeries and quicker, less painful recovery time for patients.
Titanium has many favorable properties that make it conducive to many dental applications. It will likely be used in additional ways in the future. It is a great metal that can withstand the wetness and pH of the mouth, is strong and durable, fuses well with bone, is accepted by the body and doesn’t produce as much metal allergies and negative side effects.